Coffin, Clifford VC CB DSO
Coffin, Clifford

(1870 - 1959)

Local Connection:
Born in Blackheath

War Service:
Brigadier-General. Corps of Royal Engineers, Commanding the 25th Infantry Brigade. Most of his pre-war service was in staff positions, though he did see considerable action in the South African War, for which he was mentioned in dispatches. His medals are on display at the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham. He was award the South African Medals for 1901 and 1902 and claspses for Paardeberg, Dreifontein, Relief of Kimberley and Transvaal when serving with the Royal Engineer Regiment.

London Gazetted on 14th September 1917.
Digest of Citation for his Victoria Cross reads:
On 31st July, 1917 at Westhock, [Westhoek] Belgium, when his command was held up in attack owing to heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. Brigadier-General Coffin went forward and made an inspection of his front posts. Although under the heaviest fire from both machine-guns and rifles and in full view of the enemy, he showed an utter disregard of personal danger, walking quietly from shell-hole to shell-hole giving advice and cheering his men by his presence. His gallant conduct had the greatest effect on all ranks and it was largely owing to his personal courage and example that the shell-hole line was held.

Victoria Cross

Major General Coffin also was a Companion of (the Order of) the Bath (CB) as well as being awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Bar. He was the Aide de Camp to King George V from 1920-24. Was also Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Engineers, 1936-40. During World War Two he was the chairman of the executive council of the British Empire Service League and Temporary Major General with the 36th Ulster Division.

A total of 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded during the First World War: 454 Victoria Crosses were awarded to UK-born recipients; 173 were awarded to servicemen who fought for Britain, but were born overseas; 1 person was awarded the Victoria Cross twice during the First World War. Special paving stones will be laid in the home towns of every UK soldier awarded the Victoria Cross as part of 2014's World War I centenary events. The specially-commissioned stones will be given to councils in the areas where the VC recipients were born. A total of 28 will be unveiled next year to commemorate medals awarded in 1914 and a further 600 will be laid in every year up to 2018. Coffin's will be laid in July 2017 at Victoria Cross Memorial.

Location of Memorial:
He is commemorated on the Lewisham Shopping Centre Mural, no other memorial is known. He died on 4 February 1959 at Torquay, Devon. He is buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Coleman’s Hatch, Sussex.

He was born on 10 February 1870 at Blackheath, the son of Lieutenant General Sir Isaac Campbell Coffin. He was educated at Haileybury College and the Royal Military College at Woolwich. In 1894 he married Helen Douglas Jackson (1869 - abt. 1949) and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters: Geoffrey (23 July 1898 - after 1924), Kathleen (25 December 1904 - 1998), Damaris (16 February 1906 - 1975) and Humphrey ( 30 December 1907 - 1973).

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